Skip to main content

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Apr 20, 2011 2:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Here is another attempt to gain a more precise understanding of the development of Playing in the Band. The history of the Main Ten theme has been very well told by Light into Ashes in his study of the early thematic jams. This theme was incorporated into Playing in the Band, which was first performed on 2/18/71. I assume everyone knows the version on Skullfuck, which was recorded at this well-known run. For most of 1971, there is no development of the theme, the "reprise" section follows immediately. This pattern holds through the final pre-Keith show:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-08-26.aud.weinberg.berger.100292.sbeok.flac16

However, at the first performance after Keith joined, we find the embryonic form of the extended version, where Jerry plays a few brief but powerfully significant riffs that are instantly recognizable as musical ideas he would eventually develop at great length. This version is only 30 seconds of extra material, but "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

http://www.archive.org/details/gd71-10-19.orefm.clugston.3301.sbeok.shnf

We can dig even deeper. This slight change in arrangement that cracked open the doorway of the improv began during the band's rehearsals with Keith before starting the tour. Does this represent the exact moment Jerry started to explore the possibilities? In fact, Jerry may have been directly responding to Keith, because Keith begins the section that would become the jam with a nice simple variation on top of the theme, and Jerry seems to respond to that musical idea.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd71-09-30.sbd.cousinit.18109.sbeok.shnf

Even though the seed had been planted, Playing does not blossom in late 1971. As discussed earlier the "jam" remains limited to 30 seconds of Jerry soloing until the Ace studio recording (probably done in February 72) with a more substantial jam that bursts into blazing glory in the March 1972 Academy of Music run.

I think it is significant that the origin of the extended treatment of Playing seems to coincide exactly with Keith's first rehearsal of the song with the band. I've already expressed my opinion that the great Playin' jams of 72 represented an expansion of the band's musical horizons and that the pre-retirement Keith era was their overall pinnacle. Looking at the making of the Playing jam, it is interesting that the development was not smooth and continuous. In general, we think of the Dead as undergoing constant steady change, but PITB from 71-72 actually changed at two sudden, discrete points, both in the studio - Keith's rehearsal session, and the Ace recording session. Of course, once it became a large scale live improv in March of 72, the process of "organic" growth and change started taking place also, but - "that's a tale for another time."


This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-04-20 21:07:10

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Jack o' Roses Date: Apr 20, 2011 9:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Thanks- this is something I look forward to studying as I brush up: I've been particularly weak in my later-'71 listening habits. Now here is something to consider as I listen.

ALTERT- potentially distasteful opinion -
I've found recent Furthur jam songs worthwhile as they have, to my ear, matured remarkably this Spring

Peace,

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Apr 21, 2011 12:09am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

>I've been particularly weak in my later-'71 listening habits.

Gotta love phrases like that. And the fact that hereabouts it actually makes sense :-)



This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-04-21 07:09:22

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bookends Date: Apr 21, 2011 11:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Good stuff. Thanks.

fwiw...The PITB from TDIH at Bremen, Germany is posted on Dead.net, as part of the Europe '72 lead-up.

http://www.dead.net/april-21-beat-club-bremen

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Capt. Cook Date: Apr 20, 2011 3:40pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Also, you are seeing the decline of the Pigpen extended jams on songs like Good Lovin', Allligator, Caution, Lovelight - all of which could open up into extended jams by the band - You were adding a great piano player in keith, but were subtracting an equally vibrant vocalist/frontman in PigPen. Garcia I bet was searching for new songs that might be vehicles for extended jams. Playing in the Band is an obvious choice to expand on. Can't really jam on the set tunes he was writing like Brown Eyed Women, Tennessee Jed, Ramble On Rose, etc. The Closing of the Filmore 4/28 version of Alligator>Jam>GDTRFB I think is one of the bands finest moments of improv and shows what the band could do around a Pigpen song. With Pig now missing lots of shows in 1971/1972 at a regular basis, you have a whole package of great jam songs suddenly off the table... Easy to see why they picked up on Playing with Keith, and started to introduce other jam vehicles like Eyes of the World and Weather Report Suite...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Incornsyucopia Date: Apr 21, 2011 8:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Thanks for bringing this up. Just a thought, but something to also think about in pointing to Keith as a key impetus for the development of the jam in PITB is how the jam changes once Brent joins. With Keith, right from his first performance till his final one in Feb. '79, the jam unmistakably begins with a shift to the parallel minor, specifically D Dorian. Once Brent joins, however, this is no longer the case. They first perform PITB with Brent on May 3, '79 (http://www.archive.org/details/gd79-05-03.glassberg.vernon.18870.sbeok.shnf) and the jam is clearly different in that it stays in D major, or modally D Mixolydian. That they "retired" the D Dorian jam suggests that perhaps the rest of them did think of it as being tied to Keith's influence and with him out of the band decided to change things up somehow.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Apr 21, 2011 10:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

Great observation. The change in how the jam starts is very notable. Wouldn't you say that instead of retiring the dorian jam, it is just shifted until after the major mode jam, and that this initial section in the post-keith era is based on the intro riff? In other words, the structure in the Brent era is that after the main ten riff, they improvise on the very beginning major mode figure, then shift into the minor?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Incornsyucopia Date: Apr 23, 2011 9:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

On further listening to some early Brent PITB's I'd agree with you. They do end up in D Dorian, but as opposed to with Keith when it was a pretty much immediate shift once they hit the jam section, with Brent they work their way into it: toying with with the intro riff in D Mixo., as you say, and then slowly change into D Dorian. On the first version with Brent (http://www.archive.org/details/gd79-05-03.glassberg.vernon.18870.sbeok.shnf) it's actually quite quick: they start the jam at 2:41 and the first F major (the minor 3rd of D) I hear is played by Jerry at 3:00. Perhaps, then, "retirement" was far too strong a word choice; they just shifted it a little and opted for a more subtle transition. I'm going to listen to some later PITBs to see how the relation of these modalities develops. Any further thoughts on this?

"The change in how the jam starts is very notable. Wouldn't you say that instead of retiring the dorian jam, it is just shifted until after the major mode jam, and that this initial section in the post-keith era is based on the intro riff? In other words, the structure in the Brent era is that after the main ten riff, they improvise on the very beginning major mode figure, then shift into the minor?"

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 20, 2011 3:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

The tale continues! More good work.

I wouldn't say, though, that Jerry's solo was limited to "30 seconds" in late '71 - it got to be more than a minute, and it was quite interesting in its own right.

Check out, for instance, these remarkable versions in Dec '71 -
http://www.archive.org/details/gd71-12-10.sbd.yerys.1311.sbeok.shnf
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-12-14.sbd.cantor-orf.133.shnf
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-12-15.sbd.miller.97718.sbeok.flac16
While the band stays on the main riff, Jerry spins off in Cumberland Blues-type syncopations, sounding like he's about to lose it but then coming back to the riff. While not quite the 'big jam' of '72, this isn't like the other regular solos in 1971 songs either. To me there's a very deep, strange feeling encapsulated in these little solos - kind of a combination of the Main Ten spookiness with that late-'71 about-to-slide-off-the-rails attack. Playing in a nutshell, as it were.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Apr 21, 2011 5:40am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

I don't know if this was touched on, but yesterday while listening to the streaming gdr you have BIll Graham
introducing Keith as the new band member for now because Pig Pen isn't feeling to good lately.
Clearly a milestone in Deaddum because as most of us know
Keith was the best keyboard player they ever had especially on the full grand piano....LW

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: bkidwell Date: Apr 20, 2011 3:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

You are absolutely right, I went and re-checked the timing, all of the post-Keith October-January performances with Keith have about a minute of variation/intensification on top of the Main Ten beat. "30 seconds" was an off-the-cuff underestimate. Would you agree, though, with the fairly precise dates for when the arrangement changed? All of the versions with Keith but before the Ace sessions seem to cluster pretty tightly together in timing. The versions pre-Keith are under 5 minutes, the first 3 months with Keith are under 7 minutes, then after Ace versions start around 10 minutes and go upwards from there.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 20, 2011 5:03pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Evolution of PITB: late 1971, Keith Godchaux joins

I would agree with that. There was another turning-point in '72, which I'll leave for later!